Nine of the top 10 players in the world are competing this week at Los Angeles’ Riviera Country Club at the Genesis Invitational.
“I mean, what’s not to like?” asked Rory McIlroy at his news conference on Wednesday afternoon before Thursday’s opening round.
What’s not to like, indeed.
Life has been going well for McIlroy as of late. The reigning FedEx Cup champion and PGA Tour Player of the Year will tee it up as the world No. 1 for the first time since 2015 this week, a fact he can’t quite get away from.
“Yeah, everyone keeps saying congratulations,” McIlroy said of his regained status as golf’s best. “I said the work’s only started, staying there is the hard part.”
The 30-year-old was peppered with questions about his ranking, and in true Rory-fashion, he answered them all thoughtfully. One point was present in each answer, though. Consistency.
“The mathematics add up that I’m the top of the list right now and obviously I have a chance to stay there this week, but I’ve always said it’s a by product of doing the right things week in, week out, playing well, shooting good scores, trying to win tournaments,” said the 18-time winner on the PGA Tour.
Last season McIlroy led the Tour with 14 top-10 finishes in addition to his trio of victories at the Players Championship, RBC Canadian Open and the season-finale Tour Championship.
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) February 12, 2020
“You have to be an eternal optimist in this game. I’m very proud of my top-10 ratio,” explained McIlroy. “I think it just speaks to consistency and being up there week in, week out … I always feel in golf and winning there’s quite a randomness to it. Some weeks you get the right bounces, some weeks you don’t, but at the end of the year it all sort of evens out.”
Staying with consistency, McIlroy has been the poster child for the word this season. So far on his 2019-20 PGA Tour season, McIlroy hasn’t finished worse than third. In October he started with a T-3 at the inaugural Zozo Championship, won by Tiger Woods, then won the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions the following week. After finishing fourth in a European Tour event in Dubai, he tied for third again late last month at the Farmers Insurance Open.
“I rarely set myself goals of ‘I want to win this’ and ‘I want to win that’ because all of those goals are just a by‑product of doing the little things right and I’m a big believer in that,” said McIlroy. “If you get the little things right day after day after day and you practice good habits and those habits become completely ingrained in what you do, the rest will follow.”
In addition to questions about how he spend his free time – McIlroy loves Quentin Tarantino and especially liked the director’s most-recent film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – McIlroy addressed the Twitter-driven storyline of a potential rivalry, for lack of a better word, with former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka.
“It feels like it’s been a one way (rivalry),” said McIlroy, adding he didn’t take any satisfaction from overtaking Koepka as No. 1.
“I keep saying golf isn’t about the other people, golf is about yourself and golf’s about getting the best out of what you have,” said McIlroy. “If you keep doing that and you keep that mindset, everything else will fall into place.”